In a close race, the game at Notre Dame edged out the rivalry game at Utah by a 40% to 37% margin for the most important Brigham Young Cougars 2012 football game. The other 23 percent of the vote went to Boise State (19%), Georgia Tech (3%), and Washington State (1%).
I will join the two-fifths that voted for Notre Dame.
Each game has its own compelling reasons to vote for it. Washington State is the first game of the season. It is always good to start the season on a winning note, especially if the opponent is coached by a BYU alumni. Washington State still has the reputation of being one of the most embarrassing programs in the Pac-12. BYU's string of consecutive wins in season openers would be extended to six.
Utah is BYU's biggest rival. If that isn't enough, BYU has suffered two painful losses to the Utes the last two years. It is possible that whoever wins this year's game will have the bragging rights and recruiting edge for two year or more. Three consecutive losses and no future opportunity for payback would be a real blow to the pride of Cougar Nation.
Boise State will probably have the best won-loss record for all 2012 opponents. A win would provide credibility. BYU lost both time these two teams met almost 10 years ago. The Cougars and the Broncos have a long series scheduled. With the future of the Utah series up in the air, some look at Boise State as a potential rival. Falling behind 0-3 in this series is not where BYU and, especially, its fans want to be.
Georiga Tech gives BYU a game in the south for the second consecutive year. To make things better, Tech is located in Atlanta--the biggest media market in the south. Depending on BYU's won-loss record at this point, a lot of media who don't normally watch BYU could tune in. A win could help boost BYU's respect in this important part of the country. The Yellow Jackets are also the last respectable opponent on the schedule. It would be nice to have a big win to carry some momentum into November and, hopefully, not drop off everyone's radar during the final stretch of the season.
Notre Dame trumps all of these games. The potential for exposure playing at Notre Dame is greater than every other game combined. It will be a true "nationwide" broadcast. The Notre Dame brand is more respected than any other on the 2012 schedule. The Fighting Irish won eight games in back-to-back years, and a win over an 8-4 Notre Dame team will do more good for BYU's national profile than a 10-2 Boise State.
Assuming BYU stays independent for the long-term, the six game series BYU has with Notre Dame, which starts with this 2012 game, is key for how the nation views BYU as an independent. The Golden Domers are the golden boys of college football independents. If BYU can demonstrate over this series that it is the better independent, it could greatly enhance BYU's future opportunities.
Thank you to everyone who voted, don't forget to vote in this week's poll: "Who should be the #2 QB in 2012?
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